Accepting Home

This is a hard post to write because I think it would be hard for many to relate to what I’m about to say.

I left the U.S. in 2004 and have basically been living abroad since. Each time I went back home things seemed to get more and more crazy. I didn’t see myself fitting in at home at all and I continued my nomadic, corporate life.

Here’s a dollars and cents story to illustrate this. I attended IE Business School for my MBA. The program itself was expensive, and living costs in Spain for 15 months were also quite expensive. I was accepted by the MBA program at my alma mater Ohio State University. They offered me a fellowship due to my international experience. The first year’s tuition would have been completely free and the second year would have been half price. They also offered a stipend, though I can’t remember how much it was, that would have covered all my expenses the first year, and half my expenses the second year.

But I turned it down to head to Spain. I didn’t turn it down purely because I didn’t want to live in the U.S. A large part of the calculation was that I wanted to live and work in Europe after graduation and I saw a much better chance of that happening if I went to school there. Plus, I had visited Madrid in 2006 and fell in love with the city. In 2008 I did my interview in person with IE and felt a great connection to the school. Still, it was literally a $100,000 decision.

A strange thing happened on my most recent visit home, when I surprised my mom for Christmas. I felt ok. By all means, I still find the U.S. crazy, but all places are crazy to some extent. What was happening was what I have advocated on this site since its inception: acceptance.

When I focus on what’s relevant to my life, the U.S. isn’t a bad place to live. In theory, I could live in New York and have many of the things I want in life at my disposal (public transport, organic food, wifi, interesting people, nature (though Central Park doesn’t compare to Tayrona National Park of course), etc. There wouldn’t be the daily constant, daily learning new things like I have when living in other countries, but in New York, and the U.S. to a lesser extent, you can meet people from all over the world.

Using myself as an example. I think too often we let our decision-making get consumed by things beyond our control. In my case, most of the things I don’t like about “home” are beyond my control. But if I focus on the things that are within my control, the picture changes and I can pretty much enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in my own unique way. In the end, happiness is something internal and you should be able to cultivate it no matter where you are.

8 replies
  1. Sue
    Sue says:

    Very insightful post, Adam. We have been back “home” now for 2 years after living 3 years overseas and can’t wait to go abroad again. You are right about cultivating your own happiness wherever you are, but it’s just so much more fun living in a culture different from your own!

    Reply
  2. Emily
    Emily says:

    Excellent post! I currently live abroad in China and the idea of going home to America for good doesn’t appeal to me right now. Although, I know that in any situation I can make the most of it by focusing on what I can control. Great reminder!

    Reply
  3. Joel Stanway
    Joel Stanway says:

    Well put Adam! I’ve been following you for a while and even chose my current destination thanks to your blog: I’m here with Marcos Kaseman at Angeles de Medellin. Originally from the UK, I’ve lived in Spain for the last 16 years and, like you, cannot imagine ever living in my homeland again. Reading your blog encouraged me to break free from a tedious routine (yes, even Spain becomes tedious after a while, hehe) and come here for 6 months to rediscover my smile and my heart. Talking with other volunteers here, several of us found Marcos thanks to you and I’ll be eternally grateful to you for that. Enjoy your time in Cyprus and stay happy!

    Reply
    • Adam Pervez
      Adam Pervez says:

      What a beautiful comment to wake up to! I’m so glad I’ve been able to spread the word about Marcos! On my to do list is an article for HuffPo about what he’s doing.

      I’m glad you’ve broken out of your routine and rediscovered your smile. I think it’s impossible not to find your smile and happiness up in Regalo de Dios. 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know and inspiring me with your courage and giving. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes and what you’ll do after these six months!

      Reply

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